Fr Matta El Maskeen (Matthew the Poor) on Solitude or the Balance of the Heart (ENG SUB)

Uploaded by mauricecyril on 07.11.2012

One night, when young Macaire had fallen asleep near the mountain of Natroune, an angel appeared
to him and said to him, “Get up, and look under the circle of this rock of this valley.
God will make you on this earth the father of a great people.” And the angel put his
hands on his chest as if to take his measure, and he said, “Because of you, this mountain
will forevermore be called Sheheet, which means ‘scale of the heart.”
The Monastery of St Macarius
Ten years ago, twelve men from the caves began building a monastery with 150 cells. Stones
from the ruins of the old monastery will be used build the new one.
Chapter 1 The Beginning
January 1978
- In fact the father had started life as an acolyte in full himself, and so he lived completely
alone in the desert in a cave. - Later, I had been called to the monastery
to be father of many monks. I tried to implement solitary life in this community. If I undertook
this it was not for personal vanity or just to make a rule, but simply as a man who had
experienced solitary life. First of all I had to make them enjoy solitude while still
living in a group. To this end I allowed them to live partly together, praying, praising
the Eternal throughout night, lunching at noon together and the rest of the time I had
them remain in solitude so that they could taste the beauty of solitude.
Upon the order of the head of the Coptic community, the pope Cyrille VI, in 1969 Matta El Maskine
and his companions had to leave the caves where they had lived to come to Saint Macaire
and undertake the reconstruction of the monastery there.
The only one among Matta El Maskine's twelve companions, Eliot obtained authorization to remain in solitude.
- Now it is 17 years since you were with Fr Matta Meskeen.
- Yes, he is my father. He teach me from the beginning how to live this life. After that
he is engaged now in another way, community life. We hope that it will come in this time,
that the solitary life will be beggining. At any time...that's for God.
- But solitary life is more difficult I think - It is not difficult as it is you have heart
and want to live, to ask it from God, He will give it, everything. I'm not a person which
is greater than anyone, actually I'm least of of my brothers. Least of them. All of them
are larger than me in all things and all abilities, in body and soul, in spiritual life, I'm very
small. Actually I'm not saying anything, more than the facts.
- The monks make big buildings and you make an internal house?
- Yes that's a fact, but it is God Who is making it, I'm not doing anything. I'm sure
that the thing which is doing in my heart, He is doing in them. You have seen me in the
Church in the Feast, I was in the video with white hair between all the small ones. It
is very severe to see me, it gives a great impression to spot them out, even I do not speak.
- But many monks are here in this monastery? - yes
- and they want to live the monastic life?
- yes, It is not enough for a person to have the wanting, he has to desire to be from the
whole heart, to break open the doors which are closed as if with iron, to be opened from
inside this closed with iron. And the Devil wants to continually to close it. To open
it for the first is very dangerous. More than the troubles with the Canal of Suez,
when the Jews were in the other side and the Egyptians, it is very difficult, why? And
there was water and fire, how we can go? This is our position now in this life. To go on
is very much a matter of danger...but it is danger in the style of the imagination. Actually
there is no danger, you can go on and you can leave yourself over the water and the
water can lead you over it. The first one wanting to know how to swim, he is afraid
of the water, how the water can carry me? But as some point, it's a secret point, bouyancy,
how the water can lead this body it is very hard to think about this. If you are experienced
and lead yourself without any fear, yes you find the water carries you in the same sense.
God's hand is greater than water, leave yourself and you can touch this. This force can carry
you. You are very heavy but nothing to be worried about. His hands are greater.
- It is the meaning of prayer I think - yes, prayer and all the life, from the begginning
to the end, all the life.
Chapter 2 Knowledge
When man begins to lose interest in what others say about him, and then when he begins to
lose interest in what others are doing, in what they are thinking, in what they are saying;
it is not when he gives up being interested, but rather when he ceases to be troubled by
what others do, by what others think of him, that he begins to discover his inner reality.
It is then, in that unadulterated place, that he begins to feel the reality of God.
His soul becomes the crib in which he meets the Creator.
–The ancient teaching of Plato to “Know thyself” is not very clear: How can man
know himself? It is impossible without the intervention of the Eternal.
In reality, it is right when he begins to turn and face God that man very simply begins
to discover his true image. In truth, when man goes within himself, he discovers his
reality as a man while seeing his true image. This does not mean that he in fact sees God,
because of course that would be absurd, but in truth he will see him in spirit with his
heart, he will see the true beauty, the true serenity and the true peace that God gives us.
And as soon as man accepts - accepts only to conceive of this peace, of this humility
– at that very instant his responsibility ends. God receives him and he receives God.
He then notices a change within him. He becomes more serene and accepts his life of solitude.
He changes without perceiving it. He changes every day.
- To know yourself that is to know your image which is in your heart. The image in your heart.
- If you know your feelings you know something of God
- Feelings not so accurate, because you may
feel something which is not God Himself, but when you want the picture, the picture itself
is very accurate. The picture is when the heart has become very calm and all
in a glass with water is turbulent, when you leave it for a time it, all these things go
down and down, and the mud black drops to the bottom but the top becomes clear as glass.
That is our heart actually and when it becomes so you can see the picture of God clearly
in the heart. - More and more clear every day?
- yes, as much as it becomes more stable so you can see Him more clear
- And what about silence? - Silence actually is our tool, to let the
water more transparent and the heart more clear to see God and to speak with Him.
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting
for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came and said to him: “If thou
be the son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
Chapter 3 The Struggle
Beacuse as you want to live this life all things will be against you...even yourself.
Found it sometimes against you but for a time it comes with the struggle out and you come
from the battle with great victory. Our life actually is a trial, before the trial there
is a gift as Christ was in trial because of trial there was a gift. That is for one that
is in the trial he cannot percieve the reason of the Spirit by himself. While he was in
the trial the Spirit was unknown, while he is after the trial always there is as with
Jesus an angel who came to serve Him. The same position. And our life, our trials are
a chain, trial after trial after trial, before the trial there is something good, during the
trial there is something good but unknown, after the trial there is something very good
but it was aware.
- During my monastic life, when I was already advanced in age, someone made me suffer a
great injustice and hated me without a reason. As for me, my heart remained serene and I
accepted this injustice.
Later, the image of this man crossed me suddenly and I felt a great hatred and such an anger
which I had never experienced in my life since my childhood and ever since I got to know myself.
I was in a state of unbelievable hatred and anger. I was startled and I immediately noticed
that a voice called me. It was the voice of Satan which began to penetrate into me so
that I began to hate and detest. So I prayed to God because I understood that it was Satan.
At the very moment I invoked the name of Christ, I was freed of this force, because it was
indeed a force and not a feeling, a very powerful force that had put me in this state of an
unbelievable hatred. I was instantly freed of it.
But I was certain, a certainty that I did not need to elaborate on: it was really the
power of Satan himself.
The devil took Him to the holy city, to the
place on top of the temple: "If you're the son of God, throw thyself down. For it is
written: He shall summon his angels for thee, and they shall bear thee up in their arms
to avoid even a few stones striking thy feet.” The devil then took Him to a very high mountain,
and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in all their glory:
“All this I will give thee if thou wilt bow down and worship me.”
“Begone, Satan.” And behold, the angels came and they served Him.
“It is difficult for us to believe in the existence of the Devil.”
“In truth, it is not a natural occurrence
of life with which we have to fight and, for this, it has gone unnoticed. It only becomes
visible to the man who turns his back on the world and recognizes Christ as Savior and
who believes in eternal life. Satan is not an essential element in this world that is
bought, sold, eaten, worn, that’s natural. But at the very moment one turns away from
the world to devote oneself to pure spiritual life and to accept the God-Jesus and eternal
life, that is when Satan becomes a real, powerful and dangerous entity.”
“If you are the son of God, command that these stones become bread.
All this I will give thee if thou wilt bow down and worship me.”
- And why these three prayers in the desert? - because in the desert it is a very good
place in which the Devil cannot cover himself, he is always discovered. In the city he has
many people in which he can speak and go do anything but in the desert he can do nothing.
- It is very easy to be discovered, discovering, he covers himself always but to be discovered
in this place it is very easy. The man in the city it is not easy for him to discover it,
God gives him the aid. This point He gives it and an aiding for it.
- Could we say that the devil is a person? - Yes ...
- it is a person and it is a spiritual
power that can unite with a man and join forces with a man by the intelligence... by human intelligence.
And as soon as the man accepts this alliance, he falls under the bondage
and then he starts to do what he does not want to do. And that, is the clearest proof
that he does what he does not want to do. He has absolutely no desire to do evil and
he does it despite himself and he cannot seem to get rid of this force which he feels within
himself by any means: neither by psychoanalysis nor by drugs, nor by tranquilizers, nor by
any other thing, nor by psychoanalysis. As soon as he approaches the grace and that the
grace touches him, immediately he is freed of this domination.
Does it mean that only the prayer can finally help defeat this force?
-What you say is what Christ has said. This kind can be freed only by the prayer and fasting.
So it is incredible that you have come to the same conclusion through your own efforts.
But the Devil is struggling and we are also struggling and we always have the dominion
over him, he cannot overcome, but we find the way very very very severe, even for the
beggining after that there will be as if a field that is full of flowers any bee can
come and take the juice and make honey, as has St. Anthony has done this, he was a bee,
a good bee, to go to every flower and catch honey, to catch the dew, the juice to make
honey and he get good honey for all the world and for himself. Now there is no fields, how
the honey can get its juice for its food? First and for the others, Second there's no
way, this is a desert it is not planted at all.
- could you live now in a city? - yes I can live if I am compulsed but with
my willing no. If I am compulsed why not? But with my willing no never.
- but you are more happy here - yes because of this reason I said, I am
compulsed, it is compulsory not from the circumstances but from God. By many means He sometimes compulsed
me to go down, I do not know why He wants that. It comes about me very dangerous thing
and I'm pushed to got to the city and I found great things, someone come to speak to me
and after that I found that it was very important for them and for me also. To know of new things
that I wasn't aware I was in need of. About the very hard life they are living and I'm
here living with them in touch with everyone of them and their feelings.